At this moment I’m at the office, catching up after spending yesterday working as an election judge in my ward in Chicago. During breaks, and when I eat my lunch, I read updates from friends on Facebook, check Tumblr for news and analysis shared by the folks I follow, and on Twitter I retweet tweets about the day that just was.
I am a college educated Asian white collar worker living in Chicago. Chicago is, like New York City where I grew up, is a very blue city in a very blue state. I don’t feel immediately fearful, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Especially since Illinois is sending Tammy Duckworth to the Senate.
But I have a lot of loved ones who have very real fears about what may happen as soon as Trump assumes office, and the GOP-controlled Congress intends to do when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. A family with three children, two of whom need the ACA to pay for comprehensive mental health care. My parents both rely on Medicare, and my younger brother, who has private insurance through his employer, does still require the financial assistance of Medicaid to pay for kidney dialysis.
I am having many feelings, maybe too many, about the number of women, the number of White women who voted for Trump. I’m not nearly smart or thoughtful enough to unpack that at this moment. I reckon that when that day comes, it will not be a good one. Maybe that’s unfair but I’ve been a woman of color in the United States. If there’s anybody who knows about what unfair is, it’s definitely me.
When it comes to taking action and next steps, I’ve already begun. Working as an election judge was an eye opening and empowering experience for me. I would encourage more citizens to do it, if only to see what politics looks like at the very local level, and understand the importance of civic engagement all the time, not just during campaign season.
At the moment, I’m gonna get back to my job, continue to make (possibly inappropriate) jokes with my brother because humor is how I cope when I’m not stress-eating, and send notes to my precinct captain, alderman, mayor (yes, it’s Rahm Emanuel, but better or worse he’s what I’ve got to work with), state representatives, congressmen, Senator-Elect Tammy Motherfuckin’ Duckworth and Senator Dick Durbin to thank them for the service and ask one very important question:
This is unbelievable to me still, and it shouldn’t be. The country showed its face yesterday, and I could not turn away. I was at a bar with friends when the votes were being counted, and felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach: He’s going to win. He’s really going to win. I can’t believe he’s going to win. I got uncomfortably drunk (sorry Sean), went to bed, and woke up to a terrible dream.
I am white and middle-class and college-educated. I grew up in cities, I live in a city now. My family is liberal — we butt heads on some things, but politically we are more or less on the same blue spectrum. My boyfriend’s family is similarly minded. Trump is not nor has ever been my America, but he is America. My white face and tech job and close circle of like-minded friends have let me shove this thought to the side, under the rug; the inconvenient truth that a significant and voting portion of the country does not think like me, and does not share my values.
My boyfriend has health insurance for the first time in forever. My friends and family are queer, Muslim, people of color. I really like having control of my reproductive freedom, it’s pretty sweet. There is more, a lot more, but I can’t think about it or I won’t move. I am trying not to be alarmist, but I am afraid. There’s a cold pit in my stomach when I think about what’s next. I am scared for the future.
I donated to Planned Parenthood. I reached out to my loved ones. Miss Spoken will continue to be a safe space for women, trans people, and their stories. We know what you’re saying is important, we’re here for it, and we will always believe you. We’ll provide that space, you provide the voices, and we will listen.
That’s a start, I guess. I don’t know how to change hearts and minds, or educate people (and maybe that’s not the answer), I’m bad at intentional uncomfortable conversations (I think that is part of the answer). But I’ll do it. We’ll do it. We have to. It’s going to be a long, shitty four years, and there is so much work to be done.